Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards have been announced – introducing the most inspirational women of the year…
Women are remarkable, that much we know. All around us the women in our lives are strong, bold, resourceful, talented and brave.
Our Remarkable Women Awards were created to celebrate the women who make our lives better; the role models who inspire us and use their platform to lift up others. From the women making ground-breaking entertainment that moves us, to the women taking giant strides to banish gender inequality, to the women inspiring change in their local communities.
Without further ado, meet our Remarkable Women Award winners for 2020…
Sharon Horgan: Woman of the Year
The actor and Bafta-winning writer behind razor-sharp comedies such as Catastrophe, Motherland and Divorce is our Woman of the Year.
“When I was little I won a panda bear in a raffle,” Sharon Horgan tells Stylist. “And I won an Irish dancing medal, but then, everyone had one. It’s lovely to get an award like this.
“I definitely do not feel like a remarkable human. I feel like I’m in a remarkable industry and I’m still surprised I’m in it. Occasionally [at work], if we’re getting somewhere in terms of a story or I sell something I feel pretty good. But I think if you ask most people in this industry, especially in comedy, they would agree that most of the time you’re expecting someone to discover you’re an impostor and tell you to get out.
“If my life at home is sort of collapsing, or I’m failing as a parent, it doesn’t matter how you’re feeling about your work, you don’t feel successful. And how do you even measure it? You’re only as good as your next thing. I have times where I feel fairly on top of it, and then a couple of months later, I’m like, “Who would employ me?” I constantly have that feeling. But I think that’s OK. Because what is the alternative? I’m driven by my anxiety, really. I’m driven by my worry about what’s around the corner. And that’s what keeps me wanting to strive forward and make more stuff.
“When a woman comes up to me on the street and talks about Motherland or Catastrophe, that feels really big. Everything’s about ratings and who’s watching, but if you get a bit of personal interaction with someone who has actually got some benefit that feels successful.”
Fearne Cotton: The Hope & Grace Award for Mental Health Advocate
Ever since she first appeared on The Disney Club 23 years ago, this TV and radio broadcaster has formed a key part of the cultural landscape. But it’s as an advocate for those living with mental health problems that she has made an indelible mark, speaking powerfully about her experiences living with anxiety and panic attacks – and creating The Happy Place, a space to talk about unlocking happiness.
“Stylist, thank you so much for this award. It is a very British thing to say one doesn’t feel ‘remarkable’, but I think we need to start believing that we ALL are,” Fearne tells Stylist.
“The things I’m able to celebrate about myself these days are honesty and empathy, two qualities I value deeply. The work I do is founded in the truth and connection to others and that feels like a privilege. I don’t think what I do is necessarily remarkable but it is very honest, and in my industry that isn’t always celebrated or ubiquitous. I massively appreciate this nod to what I’m doing as I really feel I’ve only just gotten started.”
Waad Al-Kateab: The Remarkable Strength Award
Earlier this year the Syrian journalist and filmmaker won a Bafta for her powerful documentary For Sama, showing the reality of living in war-torn Aleppo.
“I’m so honoured to receive this amazing award and so glad the film has been getting recognition,” she tells Stylist. “We set up Action for Sama after the release of For Sama with the message to stop bombing hospitals inside Syria by the Russian and Assad regime and to shed light on what is still happening there.
“I would ask everyone to join us to highlight those who are still suffering and the heroes who are working to respond to this terror. And I would love everyone who hasn’t seen the film yet to please watch it.”
Jorja Smith: Musician of the Year
The singer-songwriter has picked up Grammy and Mercury nominations and Brit Awards, and collaborated with Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Stormzy. Her songs reveal what it means to be a woman today.
“I am so lucky to be surrounded by many remarkable women, but the most special one is my mum,” she tells Stylist. “I owe her so much; she’s shown me how to be independent and follow my dreams. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her.
“You can’t be anyone else but yourself. Keep learning, working, trying, dreaming and believing. Push to be the best version of yourself. It’s so lovely to be recognised by Stylist and it’s more important than ever that we celebrate our successes and treat each other with respect and kindness.”
Samira Ahmed: The Glass Ceiling Award
In 2019, this award-winning journalist took the BBC to tribunal for being paid six times less than a male journalist hosting a similar show – and won the case in a landmark victory that could change the lives and salaries of so many.
“No woman should have to take her employer to tribunal. After trying to resolve unequal pay quietly and informally, I was left with no choice. I was lucky to have the NUJ and an incredible legal team backing my case and a judge and tribunal panel who upheld the principle of equal pay for equal work. I also had male colleagues share pay information with me, proving equal pay is about men and women as allies, not rivals. I was buoyed by support from colleagues, friends and the public. I owe everything to the politicians who campaigned for such a law. And the bravery and stamina of the women who have gone before me, from Ford Dagenham to the Glasgow council workers.
“Thank you so much to Stylist and everyone who backed the cause of equal pay.”
Margaret Atwood: Icon of the Year
With a literary legacy spanning 50 years and tackling dystopian societies, climate change, technology and misogyny, many of Atwood’s books have become feminist touchstones, produced eerily before their time. One such book is The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV drama that is still terrifyingly prescient. 2019 saw the writer return to Gilead with The Testaments for which she was joint winner of The Booker Prize.
“I’m very sorry I was not able to be in England with you, due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” Atwood tells Stylist. “It’s a lovely honour to have been chosen for this award, and it is thoughtful of Stylist to have created it. Many kinds of artists are glamorous – for actors and singers it’s part of the job – but writers are not among them. We often feel shy or odd when out in public, since our craft is a solitary one and we are alone when writing. We put words on paper, and these words talk to others when we aren’t there. So I was looking forward to creeping out of my writing burrow for a few hours, putting on some clothes that were not dressing gowns, and hearing what the various generations of young people are up to these days.
“Women’s rights, the health of the planet, inequality of wealth – I remember these themes from my own youth in the 60s and 70s. For a time they appeared to vanish, but they just went underground. And now, it seems, they are back. Despite their mole-like habits, writers are sometimes lucky enough to be granted a public presence by their readers, and when that happens they are often asked to use their voices in aid of others, and of causes crucial to the health of the planet and therefore the human race.
“Thank you for creating a space in your pages for these large concerns – the concerns of your Stylist icons. I am delighted to find myself in their company.”
Sinéad Burke: Change-maker of the Year
Through her TED Talk Why Design Should Include Everyone, the former teacher created a platform to shout about the need for fashion, and the world, to be more inclusive. She appeared in Meghan Markle’s Forces for Change Vogue issue.
“I was born in 1990, a couple of months before Ireland elected their first female president. In Mary Robinson’s inauguration speech, she thanked the women of Ireland who voted for her saying they “didn’t just rock the cradle, they rocked the system”. These words have become an unintentional mantra to my own advocacy.
“For so many of us, systems and institutions have been designed without ever considering our needs. How do we not just challenge the system, but redesign it? I’m immeasurably fortunate to exist in an era populated with women who have shared the most vulnerable parts of themselves to transform legislation, to build communities and to ensure society is safe for people like them to exist.
“But, the burden should not always lie with the marginalised to narrate their suffering. How can we share the spaces we occupy to create platforms, not pedestals, for those who experience our world through a different lens? It’s very surreal to receive this award and I’m so grateful to Stylist for acknowledging my advocacy but I am just one person, this award is dedicated to every person who is rocking the system and will continue to do so. We need you.”
Caroline Criado Perez: Equality Champion of the Year
Her manifesto Invisible Women explored how women are pushed out of the world, and thanks to her, Jane Austen is now on our banknotes, there’s a suffragist statue in Parliament Square and Twitter revised how it deals with abuse.
“To misquote George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable WOman adapts HERself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to HERself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable WOman,” Criado Perez tells Stylist.
“So this award, which I am honoured to accept, is surely a mark of my unreasonableness, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. But progress is never the work of just one person. Every single step forward that women have achieved has been the work of hundreds, thousands, millions of ordinary women (and some extraordinary men) who made the decision not to simply accept the world as it is.
“Without the researchers, the development workers, the medics, the engineers, measuring the impact of the gender data gap, my work would not exist. Feminism always has been and always will be a movement that relies on the efforts of an army of the unreasonable. I’m proud to be one of their number.”
Dina Asher-Smith: Sports Star of the Year
At 13 she ran world-best 39.16 seconds in the 300m. Now, the Olympian is Britain’s fastest woman, winning the 2019 World Athletics Championships at a history-making 200m. Not to mention, being recently immortalised as a Barbie complete with her signature goddess braids and squeezing in time as news writer for Stylist’s special 500th issue made by Olympians and Paralympians.
“Thank you so much Stylist magazine for this award. It always means so much to be recognised publicly, especially by a women’s publication that empowers other women,” Asher-Smith tells Stylist.
“Hearing other people say nice things about you feels weird, but also makes me really proud and determined to do even better. And it feels really amazing to be recognised alongside so many inspirational, determined and hard-working women.”
Adwoa Aboah: Mentor of the Year
Following her own mental health struggles, the iconic British model set up Gurls Talk in 2015: a safe space for young women to share their experiences.
She knows that by coming together we are collectively stronger and is an ambassador for the British Fashion Council, inspiring a diverse new generation of young people into the fashion industry.
“This is dedicated to all the beautifully different girls out there, to the countless people who inspire me and the courageous people who speak their truths,” Aboah tells Stylist.
Sian Clifford: Actor of the Year
She delivered one of the funniest lines on TV, “I look like a pencil”, as the straight-laced sibling in Fleabag, portraying the complex messiness of being a woman and sister with vulnerability, power and authenticity. Away from the screen, her meditation and wellness platform is bound to keep her zen as her stardom ascends.
“Fleabag and Claire often command one another to tell the truth and it’s a rule I try to live by. So the truth is… I am beaming with surprise and delight! This is my first acting award. It feels so uniquely special – and to be recognised for a project that feels like part of my soul is an unbelievable honour,” Clifford tells Stylist.
“It is surreal to be receiving it at this moment and I do feel a little sad I don’t get to share this in a room with anyone. To have that explosion of cheer, embracing loved ones and offering my gratitude to people in person. Truly, the best part about my Fleabag adventure, is the people. The people this show has resonated with, and the people I have had the utter joy to experience it all with.
“So I’d like to offer up my overwhelming thanks to have been granted the privilege to be a part of something that has connected so many of us. To experience such boundless support has been utterly magical and truly life-changing.
“Fleabag radiates such humanity and offers up so many truths, but perhaps none are more timely than the gentle reminder that people are all we’ve got. Just like Fleabag and Claire, though we may love each other but sometimes find it difficult to like each other, we belong to one another. Thank you Stylist!”
Lizzie Carr: Inspiration of the Year
The winner of our reader-voted award, this eco activist has used her paddleboarding adventures to capture vital data to highlight and educate people on environmental issues affecting our waterways. Her evidence has been uploaded to the app she’s also founded: Plastic Patrol.
Thousands have joined her fight and there are plans to present the findings to the government environmental policy team.
“I was really shocked to even be nominated for this award. And meeting the other two nominees (social enterprise founder Juliet Can and networking leader Kike Oniwinde) in this category was such a huge honour.” Carr tells Stylist.
“The only reason I’m in any way remarkable is because of the people that have supported Plastic Patrol. We wouldn’t have the data or the reach that we have unless the volunteers had got involved. It started as a one-woman crusade and without everyone else around the world who is now a part of it, it would still be that.
“There’s still a long way to go, specifically with environmental issues, but over the last five years there’s been a huge shift in the way people have reacted to the work we do, but we need more of everyone helping each other. And if you’re in a position where you’re able to raise somebody else up, take advantage of that and make sure that everyone’s voices are heard.”
philosophy is the wellbeing beauty brand inspiring you to look, live and feel your best, and is the official partner of Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2020.
Pictures: Chris Floyd (main), Leah Abbott, Sarah Brick, Dave Benett, Luis Mora, Nathan Pask, Trunk Archive.